Shelter residents volunteer their time to assist Catholic Community Services’ family center in Kent
KENT They are fathers, sons, brothers and uncles. They are veterans that have served their country, and seniors that have lived a long life. They are men with advanced degrees, life experiences and professional employment histories.
These are not men that one would expect to find at HOME and ARISE, Catholic Community Services shelter programs for homeless men in Kent and Renton, respectively. But like so many men in local communities, one life experience plunged them into vulnerability and homelessness.
According to Tracy Myers, CCS regional director of program development, many men at the HOME shelter had a significant life experience that contributed to their homelessness: a medical crisis, a divorce, and/or a traumatic event. But each year, because of HOME and ARISE, approximately 20 men move out of homelessness and into permanent housing. The shelters provide safety, stability and community that enable the men to envision self-improvement for the long term.
As part of a recent community-building activity, shelter residents from HOME and ARISE volunteered at a work party hosted by the CCS South King County Family Center in Kent. Eight shelter residents, ranging in age from 28 to 58, worked side by side with family center staff to pull weeds, rake, and trim bushes, filling 22 bags with yard waste. With the work completed, CCS staff hosted a lunch for the men, serving hot dogs, potato salad and brownies.
According to Dwight Jackson, lead case manager for HOME and ARISE, the men were enthusiastic about participating in the project.
“Even before this opportunity became available, the men were talking about wanting to give back,” Jackson said. “Their enthusiasm was so great that the number who wanted to volunteer exceeded the capacity of the work party.”
Jackson said that with the success of this event, the shelters are considering organizing future volunteer events for the men.
The HOME and ARISE men’s shelters provide a safe place for homeless men to sleep. In 2008, 286 men were served for 14,458 bed nights. Services are focused on ending the cycle of homelessness. Men are helped to work toward achieving financial independence, and securing permanent affordable housing and health care.
Men who stay at the shelters receive intensive case management services that are directed toward their achieving permanent housing. Case management makes the vision of safety, stability and supportive connections a reality.
Information about Catholic Community Services’ HOME and ARISE shelter programs is available from Tracy Myers, 253-850-2517.